Thread lift is a minimally invasive option for people who want to decrease signs of aging on their face. This procedure, also known as ‘contour threading’, involves the use of absorbable surgical threads to create a mesh-like network beneath the skin of your face or neck. The best candidates for thread lift are those age groups between 30 and 50, who have minimal wrinkles or finelines and also have good skin elasticity. The procedure provides a lifting effect, and helps to improve facial appearance without the need for prolonged recovery time. For those who choose to undergo this procedure, it is important to understand both the risks involved as well as all of the potential benefits that thread lift can provide. Let’s take a closer look at thread lift in order to determine if this procedure is the right solution for you.
A.What are thread lifts: An Overview
Thread lift is a facial rejuvenation procedure marketed to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging. By using strategically placed threads beneath the skin of the face and neck, these treatments are believed to help lift sagging skin in the face and create a more youthful appearance.
Thread lift has been around for over 2 decades and were known back then as permanent contour threads. When they came on the market 20 years ago, every plastic surgeon was racing to use them, and every cosmetic patient was racing to get their face rejuvenated with them. After a couple of years of being on the market, countour threads failed out of favor. People started to realize that they did not perform up to their expectations, did not do what they were set out to do, and they were associated with a lot of complications. Plastic surgeons stopped using them, patients stopped requesting them, and they eventually phased out. Over a decade or so later, contour thread procedures returned on the market in the form of thread lift.
Thread lift procedures involve using thin biodegradable threads made from polydioxanone (PDO) to gently lift sagging skin and create more definition in areas like the cheeks and jawlines. The PDO threads dissolve over time, leaving the skin tighter and smoother. Like their ancestors before them, thread lift became an attractive option for those wanting to achieve anti-aging results but not wanting to undergo surgery or more invasive treatments.
No one can dispute the fact that thread lift has gained significant popularity in the aesthetic medicine field. Since its re-introduction in the aesthetic space, due its dual lifting effects and ability to boost and stimulate collagen synthesis and production, while the threads gradually dissolve under the skin over time, the procedure became the favorite among aesthetic specialists and their patients alike. Thread lift is reportedly safe, it requires little to no down time, and it provides immediate results. However, there are a number reports surfacing that elaborate complaints that thread lift results are too short lived, lasting some 3 to 6 months and to rarely a year. Though thread lift procedures are known to be safe, just like in any medical procedure, it is becoming evident that thread lift procedures are not immune to complications.
B. What Are the Risks and Potential complications of Thread lift?
As with any medical or surgical procedure, there are risks and potential complications associated with thread lift. These include bruising, bleeding with hematoma and swelling, redness with or without tenderness at the entry points. Other potential complications include infection, migration of the threads, protrusion and/ or extrusion of the threads, dimplings, contour irregularities and assymetry; and although they are extremely rare, nerve damages. It has also been reported that the treated area can remain tender to touch for weeks.
The threads have little barbs that promote the sensation of a splinter, which may be uncomfortable. Another issue is the short lifespan of the treatment. Although in a minority of patients, depending on their age and health status, the benefits may last up to 18 months, we have seen patients shopping for re-treatment report that the effects of their treatment lasted only 3 to 6 months at the most. Furthermore, thread lift is not a replacement for a surgical facelift, they should not be used in patients who have thin skin, or any real sagging. So, it is important to discuss all the potential limits, risks and complications attendant to the procedure with your doctor/ injector before undergoing the thread lift treatment.
C. Who are the Best Candidates for Thread lift?
Thread lifts are ideal for people who want to reduce finelines and wrinkles without undergoing a more invasive procedure. The procedure is marketed to help achieve anti-aging benefits with less downtime than traditional surgical facelift. Candidates for thread lift should have realistic expectations of the results they will get from the treatment and understand that it is not a permanent solution. The best candidates for thread lift is in their late 30s to early 50s meaning someone who is generally in good health and is just starting to notice the signs of aging with minimal wrinkles and fine lines, and who have good skin elasticity. Such person will benefit the most from a thread lift procedure.
D. How do we Determine Patients’ Eligibility for thread lift Treatment?
When considering if thread lift treatment is right for a patient, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration. First, the patient’s age and health must be considered. Generally speaking, thread lift treatments are best suited for those who are in their 30s-50s in good health, as they will experience the most visible and lasting results.
Second, a patient’s lifestyle and expectations should also be taken into account. Thread lift treatments can provide longer-term improvements to fine lines and wrinkles in the face in this age group. They are healthier and they have good skin elasticity.
Third, a patient’s skin type and existing skin conditions must be taken into account. Patients with severe skin laxity rarely see great results. Patients with thin skin are at risk for thread protrusion and extrusion, and should not undergo the procedure. In order to get the best results, it is important to ensure that thread lift treatments are suitable for a patient’s skin type and that any existing skin conditions are appropriately treated prior to the treatment.
Lastly, patients should only seek out to have the procedure performed by a well seasoned practitioner, who has experience with the procedure, and who can provide safe and effective treatments for the complications. All in all, these factors should be taken into account when a doctor/ injector is determining if a thread lift is the right treatment for you.
E. What Takes Place During the Thread lift Procedure?
Thread Lift is a nonsurgical face lifting technique that uses a special suture thread called PDO (polydioxanone). The goal of the treatment is to restore the jawline and V-line of the face by pulling up the sagging skin. The procedure is used best to improve minimally visible Jowl and Marionette Lines, and to correct a wide lower face to a narrower one.
During a thread lift procedure, your doctor will use local anesthetic to numb your skin in the area where they will insert the threads. Afterwards, the threads are carefully inserted into the skin in precise locations to provide the desired lifting effect. Once all of the threads have been inserted into place, your doctor will gently massage your face to help even out any irregularities that might have been caused during placing of the threads. The entire procedure might take approximately 45 minutes and you can expect to see results right away.
F. How to Care for the Skin of the Face After a Thread lift Procedure?
After a thread lift procedure, the area will be sensitive and may require aftercare to ensure optimal results. It is important to keep the area around the entry point of the thread clean, and avoid touching it with your hands. Applying a cool compress in 30-minute increments time over the first 24 hours to reduce swelling and discomfort. Do not use and, particularly refrain from using ice on the newly injected skin. Using ice can cause frostbite injury if the ice is left on the skin for too long.
Keep your head elevated as much as possible. Refrain from laying down either on your back or on your stomach for 4 hours after the procedure to lessen swelling and the possibility of thread movements. You should however sleep on your back for the ensuing 3-5 days to prevent movement of the threads. Furthermore, refrain from doing rigorous activities and physical exercise for 4 weeks. Some light walking is permitted. Do not take a shower or wash your hair for the first 24 hours. Avoid hot showers for one week. No skin care product for 24 hours.
If prescribed by your doctor/ injector, take your full course of antibiotic or anti-viral medications. Manage your pain or discomfort with Tylenol as recommended by your doctor/ injector. No exaggerated facial expressions for about 2-3 weeks. No aggressive or prolonged chewing, no wide yawning, no wide laughing, no speaking on the phone for long for up to 1 month. If at all possible, avoid dental work for 4 weeks.
If you develop any new or worsened swelling, tenderness, warmth, or redness in the treated area, or if you’re experiencing any discharge from the thread insertion sites, this may be an allergic reaction to the thread and/ or infection; call your doctor/ injector immediately. Refrain from touching your thread entry points for 48 hours. If applying a cool compress, avoid the entry points at all cost.
Refrain from massaging the treated area for the next 2 months.
Refrain from picking at the small scabs that will form at the entry point over the next few days. You should also wait at least one month before engaging in strenuous activities/ physical exercise, contact sports, and avoid exposing your skin to prolonged sun rays for at least one month. When you are eating, avoid aggressive or prolonged chewing. Follow your doctor/ injector’s recomendations to the letter.
Thread lift can be a very effective way to achieve your anti-aging and skin wellness goals. However, it is important to remember that it does come with some risks and that proper aftercare is essential for positive results. Speak to your healthcare provider, skin care specialist, plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist before undergoing the procedure to make sure it is right for you and please, do talk to them about any questions or concerns you may have.
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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be viewed or taken as medical advice. The information provided here is based on research and anecdotal evidence from Dr. Tardieu’s cases and experience, and does not constitute a professional opinion or recommendation. Before undergoing any facial treatments and/or surgical procedure, please consult your primary care specialist, skin specialist, plastic surgeon, or cosmetic dermatologist to ensure that thread lifting is safe for you. Neither Dr. Marie-Ange D. Tardieu, Tardieu Skin Clinic, Anoki Skin Clinic, Skin Post, their employee – agents and/ or associates – accept responsibility for any harm that may occur from reading or following the information in this blog article. Additionally, individual results may vary and any perceived benefits of thread lifting procedures should not be taken as a guarantee of similar outcomes for each patient.